Inside the long awaited container from Canada along with the playground were boxes and boxes of clothes and shoes. Before we arrived at Tumaini the clothes had been sorted into piles of clothing items and age groups. A visit had already been made to a village about five miles away and with the help of the village elder several families in real need of clothes and shoes had been identified.
Back at Tumaini packages of clothing items were sorted into correct sizes for each of these families. Each family member would receive a full outfit. On Monday five of us set off to deliver the clothes parcels. We squeezed into a tuktuk to the ferry and then on foot carrying the bags of clothes. We trudged through smelly alleyways and muddy paths until we reached the village. Our first package was for the village elder, he called his family together and they waited in anticipation as the bag was opened. Each person, one by one was handed a bundle of clothes, their smiles said it all. The village elder then guided us through the village to the other houses to give out the other packages, three families in all.
The poverty in this village was worse than I could have imagined, young children sat playing in muddy puddles, mothers with young children living in wet mud floored houses with virtually nothing. Children gathered and followed us calling “Mzungu,” I called back “African” and they would laugh and run off.
We were then introduced by the village elder to several more families, listened to their stories and wrote down sizes and ages ready for a further visit this week. One family we visited, a mum with five children, one of them asleep on the concrete floor with no mattress or blankets to be seen, just a few cockroaches and masses of flies. I sat on an upturned drum and listened to the mother explaining her situation to our team. Between her chatter she smiled but her eyes were deep and desperate. I hoped no-one would ask me anything as the lump in my throat would prevent me from answering.
As we pulled into the driveway back at Tumaini I thought of how much the families have here in Timbwani, compared to where we have just been and I wonder if they realise that.
On our return we began to put together clothes bundles for the families we had met. It was exciting to choose clothes from our stocks and imagine the families wearing them. We returned to the village this morning to deliver them, I love to see their faces when they are given their own bundle, they hold them so close and so tight.
This project will take many months to visit, identify, pack up and deliver all the clothes to extremely needy families in several villages. I feel very privileged to have played just a small part in it, so thank you Canadians, your provision has and will continue to bless so many people. Written by Julie Fyfe (Sleaford New Life)